« ElőzőTovább »
Notwithstanding the confidence with which this assertion is made, we think that no competent Hebrew scholar will entertain a doubt whether the 'ignorance of which our author complains must be imputed to the Fourth Evangelist or to himself. In the first place, it is well known that the verb shalach, from which the Hebrew word Shiloach* is derived, means simply to send, and that the idea of water' is not in any wise involved in the root. The only difficulty which attaches to the interpretation assigned to the word by the Evangelist is that, as it is punctuated in Isaiah viï. 6, it presents a somewhat exceptional form. At the same time it is one which is by no means without parallel. The difficulty then reduces itself simply to this—that according to some lexicographers (as e. g. Gesenius) the word, as it is pointed in Isaiah viii. 6, is in an abstract form, whereas the Evangelist interprets it as if it were a concrete form. But even this would be scarcely a fair representation of the fact; for if we refer to the Concordance of Fuerst, who adduces several instances of similar forms, we find the result of his examination to be that it is • sometimes difficult to determine whether such words are to • be regarded, as to their origin, as infinitives with an abstract signification, or as participles with a concrete.'t
But whilst in some instances, of which the last noticed is an example, the author of 'Supernatural Religion' has failed to understand the real point of the objection which has been urged, so, in other cases, he has materially damaged his own cause by attempting to magnify the objections which he has borrowed from other writers. Two or three instances must suffice. It is generally admitted by Biblical critics, as we have already had occasion to observe, that the true reading of chap. i. 28 is Bethany, not Bethabara. There is no ground for the objection -though we believe that objection has been advanced—that the writer here assigns to the well-known village of Bethany, in which Lazarus lived, a position on the eastern side of the Jordan; inasmuch as it so happens that he has elsewhere recorded with minute accuracy the distance of that village from Jerusalem. The only objection then which can reasonably be urged against the historical accuracy of the narrative is that a second village of the same name appears to have been un
* Is. viii. 6.
† Pp. 1349, 1350. Meyer observes that the signification assigned the word by St. John is in itself' grammatically allowable.' See.Commentary on St. John,' vol. ii. p. 68 (T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh).
I xi. 18.
known at the beginning of the third century, and, as the author of Supernatural Religion 'asserts, is utterly unknown * now. Our author, however, not content with the force of this objection, which—though apparently unaware of the recent identification of Bethany with Tell Anihje-he appears to regard as insufficient, endeavours to strengthen it by the assertion that it is scarcely possible that there could have been a second village of the name.'* Now it is quite indifferent--so far as our present purpose is concerned—what is the second Hebrew word of which Bethany is compounded. The first, baith, house, is beyond dispute; and we think, if the author of 'Supernatural Religion 'will take the trouble to refer to any dictionary of Biblical proper names, and to count the number of those names which are compounded with this word, and also the number of different places bearing the same name so compounded,t he will feel that he would have exercised a sounder discretion had he either omitted this objection to the genuineness of the fourth Gospel altogether, or had he been content to leave it in the form in which he found it.
Our author's assertion about Ænon is scarcely deserving of serious notice. He says that Ænon was quite unknown even ‘in the third century';' but he omits to state that in the *Onomasticon' of Eusebius it is said to be shown to the “present day, near Salem and the Jordan, eight miles south of
Scythopolis. Not content, however, with urging a geographical difficulty which more careful inquiry would have removed, our author ventures upon a surmise that because the word signifies ‘springs’ the writer of the fourth Gospel mistook it for the name of a place.
place. For our own part, whilst we can well conceive that the existence of springs in or near the spot may have given rise to the name of the place, we are utterly at a loss to understand how anyone who possessed the amount of Hebrew knowledge of which the writer of the fourth Gospel has afforded evidence, could have fallen into the blunder of which he is here accused by the writer of Super“natural Religion. We will only add that in the position already indicated, Van de Velde notices a spring Shech Sâlim, in the vicinity of which are to be found Bir (well), Ain Bêda, and other waters, one of which was, in all probability, Ænon.g
* Vol. ii.
420. † It is not unworthy of observation that the names thus compounded belong to an unusually large number of places on the eastern side of the Jordan.
| See Caspari's ' Introduction to the Life of Christ,' p. 122 (T. and T. Clark).
We designedly refrain from noticing the objection taken by our author to the account of the healing of the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda ;* partly because of the doubt respecting the genuineness of a portion of this narrative; partly because the objections to its truth, founded on the silence of Josephus and other contemporary writers, are palpably insufficient; and partly because the blunders of our author respecting the insertion of certain words in verses three and four have been exposed with just severity by Professor Lightfoot.
We now come to our author's last illustration of the geographical errors of the writer of the fourth Gospel. In regard to Sychar, the scene of the conversation held with the Samaritan woman which is recorded in chapter iv., it is asserted by the author of 'Supernatural Religion that it is evident
' “ • that there was no such place;' and he adds that “ apologetic
ingenuity is severely taxed to explain the difficulty. Now, for our own part, we deny the existence of any difficulty even upon the supposition that no place corresponding to the ancient Sychar is known to exist at the present time, and that no allusions to it have been found in early writings. Our sources of information on such points are so defective that nothing can be more uncertain than conclusions drawn from the absence, in writings of a later date, of references to places which mentioned in the Gospels. It so happens, however, in the present instance, that such evidence is not altogether wanting. In the description of Nablûs and its environs given by Rosen, the Prussian Consul at Jerusalem in 1860, we are told that about eight minutes' walk from Joseph's grave (i.e. about ten minutes' walk from Jacob's well), there is a village called El-Askar, a name in which that of Sychar will be readily recognised ; and he adds that some 150 paces farther north there is a fountain, Ain el-Askar.t
We have already (with the single exception which we have noticed) followed our author throughout his examples of * mistakes of various kinds which clearly point to the fact
that the author of the fourth Gospel was neither a Palestinian "nor a Jew at all.' We must now follow him in his further assertion that the inferences from all of the foregoing ex• amples are strengthened by the fact that, in the quotations • from the Old Testament, the fourth Gospel in the main • follows the Septuagint version, or shows its influence, and
* Chap. v. 2-9. † See Caspari's - Introduction to the Life of Christ,' pp. 124, 125.
nowhere can be shown directly to translate from the Hebrew.'* We agree with our author that the inferences which he has drawn from the examples to which he has already referred need to be strengthened.' It remains to be seen whether the desired confirmation can be obtained from the source to which he has appealed. We have already had occasion to remark that the citations found in the fourth Gospel, in common with those of the Apocalypse-and, we may add, of the Synoptic Gospels also-accord, for the most part, more nearly with the Septuagint version than with the Hebrew original. This is precisely what we should expect when we consider how widely that version was diffused during the first century of the Christian era ; and nowhere should we look for a freer use of it than in the fourth Gospel, if that Gospel was composed at Ephesus, and designed primarily for the use of those churches to which the Old Testament was accessible through no other channel. The following instances, however, will suffice to show what amount of credit is due to the confident assertion of our author that nowhere can the fourth Evan. gelist be shown directly to translate from the Hebrew.'
(1.) In Isaiah liji. 12, the word corresponding to the English • He bare' is, in the LXX, árýveyxs. The corresponding Hebrew verb is nasa, which has the force both of épw, or avapépw, and of aipw. Now, whilst both St. Peter † and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews,& in obvious allusion to this passage, adopt the same verb as the LXX (avec épw), we find that the writer of the fourth Gospel,ş and of the first Epistle which is assigned to St. John, translates the Hebrew word in both cases by aipw. The argument is of equal force whether the reference is to Isaiah lïïi, 4, or to liii. 12. In the former place the simple verb épw, is used in the LXX; in the latter, the compound verb, ava$épw.
(2.) In chapter vi. 45, instead of following the LXX which connects the 13th verse of Isaiah liv. with the 12th, the writer of the fourth Gospel translates directly from the Hebrew, and begins a new clause : · And they shall be all taught of God.'
(3.) Whereas in Zech. ix. 9, the best editions of the LXX read ó Baciasus, the king,' the fourth Evangelist, following the Hebrew, reads ó Brosneús cou, 'thy king;' and whereas, in the same verse, the LXX render ben athonoth (literally son of asses ') by rûnov véov, i.e. a young foal, the writer of the fourth
* Vol. ii.
† 1 St. Peter ii. 24.
I ix. 28.
Gospel (xii. 15) renders the Hebrew by Twaov õvou, i.e. “foal • of an ass.'
(4.) In chap. xii. 13, instead of adopting the LXX version of Ps. cxvii. 25, Lãoov En, the fourth Evangelist adopts the Greek transliteration of the original Hebrew, Roarvá, Hosanna.*
(5.) Whereas the LXX render Zech. xii. 10, xai επιβλέψονται προς με ανθ' ών καταρχήσαντο, the fourth Evangelist (xix. 37) adopts an entirely different translation, and one which accords with the present Masoretic text, bortai eis or &&exéving av, They shall look on Him (or on Me) whom they
pierced.' It so happens, moreover, that there is an obvious allusion to the same words of Zechariah in Apoc. i. 7, xai όψεται αυτόν πάς οφθαλμός και οίτινες αυτόν εξεκέντησαν, where it will be observed that the rendering of the two Hebrew verbs accords with that of the fourth Evangelist, not with the LXX. Those who assign the two works to the same writer will have no difficulty in accounting for this remarkable coincidence. Those who adopt the conclusion of the author of Supernatural
Religion’ will no doubt be furnished with some explanation of the cause which led the writer of the purest and least · Hebraistic Greek of any of the Gospels' to have recourse to the "barbarous Hellenistic Greek,' and the 'abrupt inelegant diction of the unlettered fisherman of Galilee.'
We prefer no charge of intentional misrepresentation against the author of Supernatural Religion,' inasmuch as he is dealing with a subject in respect to which he is manifestly incompetent to form an independent judgment. We will only make one comment upon the facts which we have presented to the notice of our readers. Had our author's remark upon the source from which the fourth Evangelist borrowed his citations from the Old Testament been correct, it would have afforded no proof that the writer was ignorant of the Hebrew language. If the instances we have adduced suffice to show that our author is mistaken, we have a remarkable illustration of the discredit which advocates bring upon their own cause by making assertions which they cannot prove, and by dealing with questions which they do not understand.
It is a satisfaction, amidst so many points on which we are compelled to differ from the author of Supernatural Re• ligion,' to discover one in which we are in accord with him. We agree with him that the writer of the fourth Gospel
* It deserves notice that in the Apocalypse xix. 1, we find a corresponding instance of transliteration in the word 'AMAndovia, Alleluia.